Photographer Anna Meyer on Creative Energy
Editor's Note: Too often in politics, creative energy is sacrificed in an effort to maintain order. Instead of setting people free to achieve objectives creatively, we give in to fears that creative work will undermine the power we hold. But we can’t govern wisely if people aren’t thriving. And people aren’t going to thrive if creative energy isn’t explored and cultivated—even in politics, even in Congress.
So what would it look like if political life moved away from survivalist fears towards constant creative endeavors? Our current reality would likely change more than we have yet imagined.
For today’s journal, I sent a list of questions over to one of our sponsors, photographer Anna Meyer. As we look at politics through the lens of her work and her camera, I’m confident we will see our own world differently. And in seeing it differently, we’ll learn how we can better bring creative energy to our workplace—to benefit not just ourselves, but the whole country.
-Caleb Paxton, LIBERATUS Founder
How have you seen creative energy play out in your photography? Does it seem obvious that your creative drive would push you towards starting your own business?
With photography, I am constantly trying to cultivate new ways to be creative. I am always trying to see things differently than I may have before. I don't want to just take an image; I want to capture a moment that tells a story—that evokes wonder and emotion. Photography is definitely a passion and I have realized that people do not see the world exactly the same way. It is a chance to share with others the lens through which I view everything around me. I believe it is a gift that I was given, and a gift I want to continually share. I am grateful that people want to support me as a professional photographer. Other people’s desires to have me capture their stories–that’s what has pushed me towards starting my own business more than anything else, I believe.
What is the one thing that drives your creative energy the most?
I believe that there are God-given gifts and talents, and so I believe the primary source that drives my creative energy is God Himself. He is the Master Creator, and my way of fully experiencing and enjoying His creation is through the arts: photography, writing, drawing, and painting. It is my awe and wonder at His creation that cause me to want to capture the incredible beauty that surrounds me.
What are some other aspects of your work that motivate you creatively?
I am constantly inspired and challenged by people. Though creatives have always been a part of this city, it is an exciting time to be a creative in DC because they are rising up as incredible influencers in our city—above all by building community. Creatives realize that we all have different gifts and talents and the best way to grow stronger in them is by helping one another where there is a need, or where we can learn. I am very thankful for social media—Instagram especially—because I have been so easily connected with other creatives in DC. I meet up with other photographers and walk around the city taking photos of neighborhoods and people. I meet up with jewelry artists, writers, painters, fashion designers, and bloggers and our conversations fuel our creative energy. I am so thankful for the community of creatives here in DC.
What have been some of your favorite shoots so far?
That is a difficult question because there are so many...I love taking photos of people whom I love and who are close to me. I love having the privilege of capturing friends’ wedding day, or engagement, or one of the first days after they have brought their baby home. These are moments that you want to treasure and look back on time and time again for the rest of your life. But I think my favorite shoots are the stylized shoots, where you take different aspects of creative energy and fuse it together. The shoot I did with Liberatus is a great example of this. First working with people who are passionate about a cause, adding elements that represent that cause, and placing it in an amazing setting—it's a winning combination to create a great vision for a story.
You mention on your website your love of adventure and of telling stories. How do you go about telling someone’s story through photography? What is the impact of that unique story or adventure on your photo shoot?
My love for adventure and photography often go hand in hand when I take photographs for myself. I try to capture people’s true emotions in settings that are natural to them or where they are the most comfortable. I like to get to know the people I am working with as best as I can and form a relationship with them, because then when I am photographing them they will be more comfortable and be their true selves in front of the camera. Everyone has a story to share and life is full of adventure. It is amazing how a single photograph can have such a big impact; you skim through old magazines or newspapers, or walk the halls of history museums, or sit in a grandparent’s living room, and you are surrounded by important moments of people’s stories, frozen in time.
What do you do when you feel your passion drying up? How do you reset and spark that passion again? What keeps you going when, at least in the moment, that isn’t possible?
When my passion starts to feel dry, I spark my passion by taking a break and enjoying how others express their creativity—looking at others’ photographs, talking with other creatives, visiting museums, exploring someplace new, trying another creative outlet (i.e. drawing, writing, cooking, doing hair and makeup). What keeps me going is that people want me to keep taking photographs; I am constantly being encouraged even when I don't feel that great about my work, and with that I have a sense of responsibility that I will never give up even if I am feeling unmotivated or uninspired.
What does restoration look like in the photography world? How do you bring an awareness of the Kingdom—when all things will be restored—to what you’re doing? Is it simply taking good photos? Are there cultural norms that are in need of restoration?
I believe when you're capturing God’s creation in nature or through portraits, it is impossible not to be Kingdom-focused. When taking photographs, I am taking photos of life, and life wouldn't exist without an incredible Creator. I often pair my photos with stories of His faithfulness and goodness, and my resulting awe and wonder. I hope that when people see my photographs, they can see that as well.
How long have you been in DC now? Do you have anything you want to say about American political culture? Has your path in photography crossed paths with political culture in any way?
I was born in DC and lived here until I was 7 years old. This city has changed tremendously since then. I will have lived in DC as an adult for three years in June and am happy to grow more and more rooted here. My photography has not crossed paths with political culture yet but I hope it will in the future.
How would you advise someone to bring their passions and creative energy to their work, even if they’re not in their dream work environment?
I think there are always ways of expressing your passions and creativity; I think it’s all about changing the perspective of how you go about your work. Perspective is pretty powerful and you can see that especially as an artist. We can all be looking at the same thing, but by shifting focus, you can turn something that seems bland and mundane into something unique and inspiring. Taking your passions and creativity and actually using them can truly make a world of difference, wherever you are—no one else can uniquely see or feel what you do, so share it!
WEEKLY ACTION ITEM:
How is your unique perspective showing you how to respond to an opportunity or challenge in your workplace? What point of frustration could be turned into an opportunity for innovation or restoration by looking at it differently? This week, think about your day-to-day work in light of these questions, and offer your perspective at one of your upcoming team meetings.
LIBERATUS is a weekly journal creatively pursuing Truth and Beauty by empowering writers in American politics to tell the story of healing through freedom. You can join the pursuit by applying to write, subscribing to the journal, or by funding the movement by donating monthly or by making a purchase in our store.